In case you didn’t notice, the Collective gals were at Long Beach Comic Con last weekend and we had a marvelous time. It was our first time at this particular Southern California convention, and after the mayhem and madness of SDCC, the smaller event was more intimate and very inviting. My favorite part of any convention is wandering the exhibition floor and, in particular, browsing Artist Alley. (If you’ve ever attended a convention with me, you’ll know I usually come home with several pieces of art in hand!) This time, the Mutineer and I had a particular mission: find an appropriate piece of SPN art to hang in the living room.
We were not disappointed: LBCC’s Artist Alley spanned nearly half the exhibition floor (and made my fangirl heart so, so happy) and by pure chance we stumbled on this glorious artwork:
So, of course, the Mutineer and I had to stop and peruse the artist’s portfolio because, you know, reasons, and then there was this artist, Kalgado.
If you’re not part of the Supernatural fandom, the acronyms in this title probably mean nothing to you. However, although they’re part of a movement in one fandom, what they represent could benefit members of all fandoms. Here is some enlightenment: “AKF” stands for Always Keep Fighting, and was/is the name of actor Jared Padalecki’s campaign to raise funds and awareness for battling the stigma against mental illness. The movement is almost a year old, and since its conception it has raised many funds and much awareness for organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms. The movement has been widely embraced by the fandom, and during San Diego Comic-Con last year, we showed Jared how much both he and AKF mean to us.
Last week, fellow Supernatural actors Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins supported their castmate/friend’s mission to help fans who struggle with depression by launching You Are Not Alone, or YANA, via the Creation Stands website.
The funds raised by YANA will support a new project; the two actors have also decided to create the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network in conjunction with Misha’s charity Random Acts and also with IMAlive and To Write Love On Her Arms. The goal? To help fans who suffer from depression, addiction, and self-harm.
I have never been a hardcore sports fan. Meaning, I will watch the Superbowl for the beer and nachos, enjoy a basketball game for the, er, beer and nachos and, um, well, you get the jist. In fact, sports culture has always been lost on me. Feeling emotional over gorgeous men on my television screen, totally not my thing, right? Wait.
It started innocuously enough. I ran into this adorable hockey comic on Tumblr called Check Pleaseby Ngozi, and became intrigued with the language, atmosphere and culture surrounding the game. I was soon pointed to the GQ line of the Dallas Stars hockey club by Liz Keysmash and then, it was all downhill into the trashcan (my favorite place to be, honestly). I started in my comfort zone, which is to say, I read a bunch of RPF fanfic, as I began to appreciate the aesthetics of hockey. I delved into meticulous research of the game (Yeah, I did research. I’m still a nerd) in order to figure out the definitions of terms such ashat trick, celly and whatever the hell a scrum is. I listened to games on the Stars app and watched a few on tv, started following different players and teams on Twitter and, all of a sudden, just like that, I found myself genuinely interested in the sport. I blame the bro-feels, team vibes, fisticuffs, and, of course, the hot, muscular dudes who take totally platonic showers together, for reeling me into one of the most underappreciated sports in all of fandom. Go figure.
Alright, Collectors, allow me to introduce you to my newest YouTube obsession, the web series “i can’t even.” This series is the brainchild of Australian VCA graduates Hayley and Alyce Adams, twin sisters who have created a delightful nerdy comedic series about Em (Louise Cox) and Lex (Tiana Hogben), two fangirls who have a series of geeky adventures (or sometimes, misadventures) while living together. The inspiration came from the creators’ own experience in the fandom favourite social media platform of Tumblr, so the best thing about the series is that the writing is written in fluent fangirl.
It’s been two weeks since San Diego Comic Con took over the Gaslamp District, but we here at the Collective still have so much to say about our first ever SDCC. The Collectress has waxed eloquent on equal representation, but I want to focus specifically the roles of women, including women of color, and children in the comic book, television and film industries (here-forth named the “industry”) and the shifting landscape of fandom.
The way current markets target female consumers is changing. At Comic Con, panels on female stereotypes in comics, the female gaze in manga, nerd girl fashion, geeky kids in the classroom and the discussion of female-centric content were scattered across this year’s schedule. One of my favorite of the smaller panels at SDCC was entitled, “Nobody’s Damsel: Writing For Tomorrow’s Women” and was moderated by D’Nae Kingsley, Head of Integrated Strategy at Trailer Park, Inc, an entertainment marketing agency. The panel focused on female representation in the industry and in attendance was Meghan McCarthy (Head of Storytelling, Hasbro & Executive Producer, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic), Issa Rae (creator, “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” web series), Molly McAleer (writer/co-founder, Hello Giggles) Dan Evans III (Creative Director, DC Entertainment TV) Aria Moffly (Creative Director, Development, DC Entertainment TV) and Sam Maggs (Author, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy & Associate Editor, The Mary Sue).
These various industry women (and the one black dude from DC) gathered to discuss how content creators can shift the industry to be more representative of the growing female audience. With one African-American woman and one African-American man on the panel, the discussion wavered between diversity in the industry and the shifting landscape of feminism. Each person on the panel agreed that we need to see more women characters in industry specific content and that these women should be written by women for women. In order to reach the female audience for the long term, we need authentic characters that represent the complexities of femininity and race, not played-out stereotypes or characters only meant for sexualization. Issa Rae made a number of points that deeply resonated with me, the biggest being the fact that she created the “Awkward Blackgirl” webseries because there were no women on television she related to. The admission is something that I understand as a geeky black girl with almost no geeky black girl heroes to look up to, and I took the time after the panel to tell her so. As an educated black woman, there isn’t a lot of content that is marketed directly to women like me, but Issa, who credits Shonda Rhymes as an hero, and women like her are working to widen the scope of the entertainment industry. I also agreed when Sam Maggs took the time to remind the audience that social media gives fans a way to directly communicate our needs to creators. We can reiterate the importance of female-centric content in a male-centric industry by utilizing Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and even small blogs (like this one!) to reach out to other fans and strengthen our voices so that creators know what we want.